Up until recently, pea has been virtually fearless and he rarely shys away from anything. He approaches most new activities and experiences with lots of energy! It is so refreshing and fun to watch his fearless and enthusiastic approach to life. We all have a lot to learn from our toddlers at times, don't we? So, I was very upset when pea suddenly developed an intense fear of the water. He LOVED the water! He loved to dunk his head underwater, splash, pour water on his face before he was even a year old. That is, until he learned the hard way that water can be very scary.
Our babysitter, Diane, has an in ground pool and she takes the kids swimming one-on-one and tries to teach them some basic swimming lessons. About a month ago, she took pea out to swim and he was so excited! As is typical for him, he approached this activity full force and ran right into the water...and sank. Thank goodness Diane was right there and thank goodness she only allows one child in the pool area at a time. Of course, she informed us of what happened, but I honestly did not worry about it too much because we trust her 100% and we realize that things like this just happen. The following weekend we went swimming and pea absolutely refused to get into the water. He would not even let us hold him in the water. It was very clear that he was very, very scared. He finally ventured to the steps leading into the pool, but that is as far as he went. It was then that I realized how traumatic the pool incident was for him. On one hand, it was good that he learned how dangerous the water can be...on the other hand I was definitely upset by this new intense fear of something he loved so much.
It just so happens that we had signed him up for swimming lessons so the timing could not have been any better! But, the first lesson did not go well! He had a full body death grip on me while we were in the water and cried off and on the entire 30 minutes. I basically held him the entire time and we just walked around in the water. So, I was anticipating the same last night for his second lesson. We started off with the death grip and the crying, but he slowly started to relax. By the end of the lesson, he was laying on his belly in the water, kicking like crazy, blowing bubbles in the water, and laughing! I was so excited I almost started crying in the pool! Isn't that funny?!
Now, he definitely still had moments of fear and would wrap his arms around my neck very tightly, but he definitely had a breakthrough so I am confident he will overcome this fear very quickly. Whenever he would start getting scared, I would just have him look at me in the eyes and he would quickly calm down. For me, it was not only an experience in overcoming a new fear, but also an experience of building trust and attachment. It was confirmation that we have developed a strong attachment as a family, but also a reminder that it is something that will always be tested.
Attachment is always a hot topic in adoption so it is something I think about a lot. Sometimes it's hard to know that fine balance between what is typical toddler behavior and what is adoption/attachment related. I wonder if we sometimes become victims of adoption paranoia, thinking everything little thing must be an adoption/attachment issue. For example, pea is also going through a separation anxiety phase right now that has thrown us for a little loop because he is normally pretty easy going. My first thought was "is this an adoption/attachment issue?" even though I know it is completely normal for every toddler to experience separation anxiety at some point. In fact, it can be a very good sign of the attachment process and developmental milestones. But, I can't help but still wonder...is he afraid we are going to leave him? Is he having some sort of memories of the loss he has already experienced in his very short life? Did we leave him too long, too early when we went on our trip? I don't think so, but I still wonder.
What do you all think? Do you get caught up in the "adoption paranoia?" How do you find that balance?